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TV Review: FX’s ‘The Strain’

FX premieres The Strain—based off of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s best-selling vampire novel trilogy—on Sunday July 13, 10 p.m. ET. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“FX is so steeped in brooding drama, the comicbook-y roots of The Strain feel mildly off brand, but also like a breath of fresh air. While there’s not much new to be done with the vampire genre, director Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s adaptation of their book/graphic novel plays like perfect summer popcorn fare, filtering the threat of marauding bloodsuckers through fears of global pandemic. At times the portentous dialogue can sound hokey, but for the most part, the slick pilot and three subsequent episodes set the tone for a series with enough of a hook to get under one’s skin.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“If nothing else, The Strain looks great. Guillermo Del Toro—who co-wrote the script with Chuck Hogan based on their trilogy of Strain novels—directs the pilot, and his gift for visuals runs through the first four episodes. The shot compositions are only occasionally inspired, but the effects work runs the gamut, from squirm-inducing to majestically creepy.”
—Zack Handlen, A.V. Club

“The show, based on the novel by the two, isn't great, but it isn't entirely awful either. The Strain is about a workaholic investigator for the Centers for Disease Control named Ephraim Goodweather, played with convincing earnestness by Corey Stoll (House of Cards). The character's name is absurdly portentous, like something appropriated from a Cotton Mather chapbook, but fortunately, his friends call him Eph, like the letter ‘F.’"
—David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“Television needs another vampire drama like the Germans needed a few extra goals in the match with Brazil, but The Strain (it debuts Sunday night at 10) is packed with so much macabre imagery and so many clever ideas that it doesn't feel like the resuscitation of a tired genre, but the launch of something new and fun.”
—Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

“The better parts of The Strain will unsettle viewers with this new species of monster, a threat that spreads in a novel way that isn’t easily explained. That’s also part of the show’s initial stumble — in establishing characters caught up in a contagion crisis, the creators and writers are also apparently still trying to figure out how a TV series works in 42-minute increments. The first couple of episodes seem as if they’ve been assembled from a kit that’s missing a few nuts and bolts; by the third and fourth episodes, however, a viewer gets a much better sense of The Strain’s style and bite.”
—Hank Stuever, Washington Post